Post-pandemic traffic trends and the Wilton Police Department‘s strategies in dealing with them were among the key items examined in the department’s 2022 Annual Report, released earlier this summer.
Calls for Service
General calls for service increased over the previous year, from 12,915 calls in 2021 to 13,687 in 2022, which represents a 6% increase.
In 2018 there were a total of 15,674 calls made to the department, which went down to 14,431 in 2019, and then to 13,483 in 2020, the year the pandemic hit.
“By the Spring of 2022 we began to see a sustained emergence from pandemic-related impacts,” the 39-page report states. “From a policing perspective, this was most noticeable on our roads.”
Of the 13,687 calls the department received last year, nearly 40% of those involved motor vehicle investigations.
While numbers are still down from prior to the pandemic, there was a 28% increase in motor vehicle crashes in Wilton. There were also two motor vehicle-related fatalities in 2022, something Wilton has not seen in the last five years.
Just over 50% of the 13,687 calls received last year were citizen-generated, meaning they don’t include those initiated by police, such as traffic stops and administrative functions. These 6,973 citizen-initiated calls accounted for approximately 6,872 personnel hours, with each call on average requiring 1.6 officers to respond.
The largest number of these calls came on Friday, with close to 1,200 occurring that day, with around 1,050 calls coming each on Wednesday and Thursday. Sunday was the slowest day for citizen-generated calls, with around 800.
More calls came in December than any other month, with over 650, followed by July and October, with around 625 each. The lowest number was in February, which saw about 450 calls, followed by April, which had just over 500.
Domestic and Family Violence
“We experienced an unfortunately high number of family violence incidents in 2022,” the report states. “Representing 27% of all arrests, the 48 family violence arrests in 2022 were the most the department has had in at least the last 10 years.”
According to the report, the department responded to a total of 106 domestic-related incidents, which involve disputes among family or household members and do not rise to the level of the statutory definition of family violence, such as verbal arguments.
“Of these incidents a total of 57 qualified as family violence incidents based on the nature of allegations.
In 2021 there were only 39 such incidents from among a total of 73 calls, and only 24 in 2020 from among 57 calls.
Types of Crime in Wilton
“Overall our crimes against persons remain low, with crimes against property accounting for the vast majority of reported crime in 2022. Fraud and theft-related crimes comprised 69% of reported crimes against property,” it says, with one key departmental investigation throughout the year centering on mail thefts resulting in check fraud.
Of the total number of 301 crimes documented in Wilton in 2022, 52 were considered crimes against people, including 26 simple assaults, four aggravated assaults, 19 cases of intimidation, one case of fondling and two of negligent manslaughter.
Among the 11 cases of crimes against society, six involved drug and/or narcotic violations, two involved drug equipment violations, and three involved pornography and/or obscene material.
Wilton saw a 16.7% increase in crimes against property, which included 238 cases.
Among the 238 cases involving crimes against property, 37 involved identity theft, as well as 26 cases of counterfeiting and/or forgery, five listed as swindle or confidence game cases, five of credit card and/or automated bank machine fraud, 16 of wire fraud, and one of impersonation, for a total of 90 cases.
There were also five cases of extortion and/or blackmail.
Other crimes against property included 16 cases of burglary, 12 cases of shoplifting, 10 of theft from a building, seven motor vehicle thefts, 27 thefts from inside motor vehicles, 14 motor vehicle parts and/or accessories thefts, one case of pickpocketing, one of general robbery, and one of embezzlement.
There were also 16 cases of property destruction and/or vandalism in 2022, and one of arson.
“Despite thefts from vehicles and stolen vehicles continuing to be a crime pattern throughout the State,” the report says, “in 2022 we saw a 41% decrease in theft from vehicle incidents and a 46% decrease in stolen vehicle reports.”
Arrests and Use of Force
In 2022, according to the annual report, the department made 175 arrests, up from 142 the previous year. Fifteen of last year’s arrests, however, related to incidents that occurred in prior years.
The department’s report also outlined other areas, including “Use of Force,” with 10 distinct incidents qualifying, representing a decrease from 13 in 2021.
“The majority of the incidents were the result of subjects not complying with officer verbal commands or resistance to being taken into custody for arrest, resulting in forcible handcuffing,” the report states.
According to demographics, eight of the people involved were male, two female, with one-half noted as white and the other half black, averaging at 26 years of age.
The department saw 12 separate complaints during 2022 that were investigated by Internal Affairs, with five alleging personnel “demeanor,” two involving “excessive force,” four involving “bias-profiling,” and one alleging “improper investigation.”
In 2022 officers were engaged in nine different pursuits, versus 14 in 2021, ranging in duration from 12 to 30 seconds, ultimately resulting in four separate arrests.
Bias Profiling Review
The Wilton Police Department complies with state statutes requiring the collection of data related to traffic stops to assess for bias in areas of race, color, ethnicity, age and gender of motor vehicle operators (based on the observation and perception of the officer involved).
The department also tracks data related to the disposition of the stop, including whether a warning, citation or summons was issued, whether a search was conducted and whether a custodial arrest was made.
Traffic Stops: Of the 4,076 total traffic stops in 2022 approximately 63.1% were of White/non-Hispanic operators, while 36.9% involved an operator of another race (Black, Hispanic, Asian/Pacific Islander, American Indian/Alaskan Native, and other race).
The report notes that the data “is consistent” with the most recent statewide traffic stop data (2020) that showed between 2018-2020 the statewide percentage of drivers identified as minority who were stopped by police was 37%.
More specifically, the Wilton department traffic stop data for 2022 showed that 13.2% of operators were Black and 19.1% were Hispanic, which the report said was “consistent year to year” with 2021 traffic stop data, and showed a “slight percentage increase” in stops of Black operators (0.7%) and “[slight percentage] decrease” in stops of Hispanic operators (-.3%).
The percentage of Wilton police traffic stops of Black motorists was below 2020 statewide data (CT municipal departments and State Police troops between 2018-2020) for traffic stops of Black MV operators (17.8%), but higher than traffic stops of Hispanic drivers (15.8%).
Traffic Stop Results — Action vs. Warning: With traffic stops involving White non-Hispanic operators, approximately 20.9% resulted in arrest, misdemeanor
summons or infraction; the remaining 79.1% resulted in warnings.
For Black drivers, approximately 26.2% of traffic stops resulted in arrest, misdemeanor summons or infraction, while 73.8% resulted in warnings.
For Hispanic operators’ 35.2% resulted in dispositions of arrest, misdemeanor summons or infractions; the remaining 64.8% resulted in warnings.
Vehicle searches: Wilton tracks only discretionary vehicle searches as part of the state’s Racial Profiling Prohibition Project. Discretionary vehicle searches are those
conducted under the authority of probable cause or consent, excluding inventory
searches. In 2022 — the first full year of legalized cannabis — Wilton officers engaged in only two discretionary vehicle searches, an 88% year-to-year reduction. In 2021 Wilton experienced a 67% year-to-year reduction (2020/2021) as the legalization of cannabis took effect mid-year.
The Wilton report said that with such a small sample size of total discretionary vehicle searches, no meaningful analysis could be performed.
Of all the operators stopped by Wilton officers in 2022, approximately 16.7% were residents of Wilton and approximately 90.2% were residents of the State of Connecticut.